This is a fairly large game time wise and it’s also a memorable one. It was the final game that I got to complete on the old PS3 (Game 1) and then I finally got to go back to it on the newer one. Three whole video games in a single package is a very good deal and the price was right. I enjoy the Ratchet and Clank series as well as the Jak titles so I was sure that Sly would be fun. As expected, it was an enjoyable experience.
The first game is Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus. We are introduces to Sly, Bentley, and Murray as they make a pretty solid team. They’ve been friends for many years and are known for stealing artifacts and having fun on vacations. Now, they’ve uncovered a lead onto the gang that took out Sly’s parents and stole the Thievius Raccoonus. The trio decides to recover the chapters from the respective gang members and take down the leader. It will be tough, as a special agent by the name of Carmelita Fox is hunting them and she won’t stop until Sly’s behind bars. Looks like Sly Cooper is in for a rough ride!
The first game’s gameplay is unique as the next two games go for a more traditional route. In this game, you have to avoid detection as you make it to the goal. One hit will essentially finish Sly off so you have to be careful about how you handle it. The stealth part is pretty interesting and it’s like playing as Spiderman Noir in Shattered Dimensions, but without all of the athletics and webbing. That’s not to say that Sly isn’t athletic though. You will have to use his skills to jump from place to place and hang on to a ledge when needed.
It is pretty novel gameplay, but I am glad that they ended up switching it. I believe that stealth works best when you have it for a few levels as opposed to the entire game. Having to re do an entire section because you were spotted can be pretty rough. The game was a solid start to the series and Clockwerk made for a powerful adversary. The story is good and the banter between Sly and Carmelita was in top form. The replay value for the game isn’t incredibly high, but getting the Platinum and finding all of the bottles/clues will take a little extra time.
The second game’s plot picks up from the first since someone has stolen the parts to Clockwerk. Sly remembers how dangerous that foe can be and the gang must quickly get ready so they can find the culprits and stop Clockwerk from being revived. Will they be able to do this? Meanwhile, a new face joins the police force by the name of Constable Neyla. Together with Carmelita…they may finally be able to take out the Cooper gang!
This is where the gameplay becomes finalized for the franchise. There is still a lot of stealth involved, but not as much since you can afford to just tackle your opponents. It’s not really advisable for large groups, but it’s still an option. Sly now has a health bar and it feels a lot like the original Jak game. No guns, it’s just classic hand to hand combat with some athletics. I’m a fan of the gameplay and it’s good to see how the series has progressed. Of course, I would love a laser gun, but it’s not completely necessary.
The third game takes place after a long time has passed since the previous installment. The gang has parted ways and things had been going slowly. Then Sly finds the ancient base of his ancestors and a villain by the name of Dr. M is heading there to get the treasure. Sly will need to bring his old partners back to the team while also recruiting a few new (and old) faces to help with the task. It’ll be the toughest mission yet, but Sly is ready! Carmelita isn’t far behind and she’s ready to take Sly down for the count.
This one experimented with a lot of concepts. We got to control a pirate ship and board other ships to steal a lot of money. This is great for when you need some money to buy everything in the shop. The gameplay could be a little on the tricky side for this mode, but it was pretty fun. There are also airplane battles, which are handled very well and car battles, which are just as exciting. You also get to play as the Panda King and shoot fireworks at the opponents. Dimitri gets his own level where you scuba dive and get to see some action. The Guru’s gameplay involves possessing the enemies and causing them to ram into something or get corralled somewhere.
Carmelita also gets her own gameplay where the game becomes a third person shooter. It’s naturally not as well developed as PN03 or Star Fox, but the gameplay is still fun. Beyond that, we still have the usual Bentley programming game and the Murray smashing part. Sly’s gameplay is also true to form and there is one boss fight that suddenly transforms the game into DBZ. You get to charge with immense speed at the boss and blows are exchanged. It was a very entertaining boss fight and maybe the best (Or top 3 anyway) in the trilogy.
Aside from the three games, we also have a few minigames. They weren’t very memorable and I only gave them a quick try so I could snag the trophies. (Well, I would have played them anyway, but only once a piece) They are relatively basic and you should have no trouble getting solid scores on them. They’re entertaining enough, but they don’t add to the replay value because you won’t really find yourself replaying them. One or two shots per game is typically enough to feel satisfied.
Sly is the protagonist of the Sly Collection and he’s actually pretty cool. See, he actually does flirt with Carmelita and some of the other characters, but he’s always classy about it. It’s more of a game to him and he never goes too far. It’s just light banter and both parties know it. So, instead of having a forced romance subplot or a James Bond character, we get a very interesting hero. He is a thief, but he (typically) only steals from those who have already stolen something. Calling him a hero may be a stretch, but he does bring many criminals to justice Batman style. He always has a few comebacks at the ready and he basically made the series. I can safely say that the trilogy wouldn’t have been half as good without him as the lead character.
He continues to improve throughout the trilogy and he’s essentially a master by the second game. He may have been a little nerfed in the third game since he couldn’t take out the giant mech, but it happens. I didn’t care for his decision at the end of the third game since it was almost a bit of a betrayal to his friends. One scene cannot negate a whole trilogy of solid acts so Sly is still one of the better protagonists in gaming. He’s an example of a romantic who doesn’t let it bog him down. The Cooper Gang is his creation and they shall go far.
Bentley is the tactical member of the group and he makes all of the plans. He gets a small subplot where he starts to get a little jealous of Sly, but luckily he snaps out of it in time so I won’t count it as a negative. His voice is catchy and it’s the most memorable part of his character. He does get into a romance, which was pretty unnecessary and not very enjoyable. It definitely helped to drop him and this occurred during the third game. (Along with Murray’s drop) His gadgets are interesting, but he’s not not a very intriguing character. He just doesn’t have any traits that make him stand out (apart from the voice) and he could easily be replaced with any other genius. Sly is definitely the one carrying the group as far as personality goes.
The Murray started out as a solid character for the first two games and then he went downhill fast. He’s the opposite of Sly in that he’s not very smart or cunning and he never has a good comeback at the ready. He makes up for this with his fists and he’s the power hitter of the group. (I would easily take Sly in a fight against him though) He likes to refer to himself as The Murray and that’s why I liked him a lot. Then, he decided to abandon his fighting methods thanks to The Guru and he started a lot of meditation. So, most of his lines in the third game were pretty annoying since he wasn’t a convincing pacifist and most of his “wise” sayings just weren’t funny. He has a classic rage moment at one point where he turns back into the original “The Murray” but it came a little too late. He still beats Daxter, but Murray definitely dropped as far as characters go.
Carmelita is Sly’s biggest rival and they always get to share a lot of epic dialogue. She makes sure that the police are in top shape and she has risen to a very high position. Her skills with a blaster are definitely worth mentioning and she’s able to take down the bosses that even gave Sly’s gang a tough time. I do miss the days when capturing Sly was her only goal, but the ending is happy for her. A little too much romance if you ask me though. It’ll be interesting to see what her role is in the next game. She’s definitely an integral part of the franchise and her rivalry with Sly is what makes the banter so much fun.
Dimitri is easily one of the more unlikable villains, but it seems like he was well received by the fans so he got to return for the third game. It’s too bad because I just don’t see why he is supposed to be cool. He spends some time flirting in the third game, which isn’t cool and his only good scene that I can recall is the fact that he didn’t succumb to Sly’s black mailing attempts. Beyond that, he’s just another enemy who turns into a hero and then forgets to have any significant character development. I’m hoping that he won’t return for the next game.
The Guru is easily one of the most annoying characters in the trilogy. The fact that he only makes sounds and then everyone can understand him is a trend that I really don’t like. (Just look at Bumblebee) This way, the characters get to say things like “Whoa, impressive thinking Guru” or “I like the way you think Guru” It’s a cop out because we don’t know what he is actually saying and I just can’t root for him. He’s supposed to be immensely hardcore based on the reactions from the characters, but I need to hear it to believe it. His subplot just wasn’t enlightening and he prolonged the game just so that he could be at one with nature. Yeah….that’s a no go for me.
Penelope is one of the new members to join the gang in the third installment and she’s all right. She beats most of the other new recruits, but I couldn’t get myself to become a fan of hers. She’s also pretty smart and she has her remotely controlled vehicles, which makes for solid gameplay. That being said, I just can’t get behind the forced romance subplot between her and Bentley. It didn’t do wonders for any of them…that’s for sure.
The Panda King started out as one of the big villains in the first game. His boss fight was pretty fun and his flame attacks were brutal. He made for a solid villain and he was definitely one of the more memorable bosses. After that, he became a hero in the third game and changed his ways. That’s where he went downhill for me. His new meditation personality was too similar to Murray’s change and he just wasn’t believable. I have to agree with Sly that it’s a little hard to overlook his deeds from the original title. His mannerisms can also be a little tough and you just wait for his scenes to be over. In the end, I’m definitely not a fan of him anymore.
Clockwerk is the big boss from the first game and he shouldn’t be underestimated. The Cooper Clan has feared him for many generations and that’s because of his overwhelming power. The boss fight was pretty interesting and it was fun to test my metal (get it?) against his. His character is solid and he kind of reminded me of Unicron. Maybe it’s just his commanding demeanor, but he’s a solid villain and easily one of the most memorable ones in the franchise. It would be no stretch of the imagination to say that he is my favorite villain in the franchise and it will be reasonably difficult to pass him.
Muggshot is an example of a hardcore villain who stayed as a villain. He appears in the third game and I believe that he was in the original as well. He’s pretty hardcore and we get to witness a battle between him and Carmelita. He has a lot of muscle power while Carmelita is good from long range. I have to admire his raw power and there aren’t many fighters who could take him down for the count. He’s not an amazing villain, but he’s good enough and he has no annoying gimicks. He just works to pound his opponents with simple (yet effective) brute strength. That’s my kind of villain.
Constable Neyla is the new face on the police staff and she’s the only one to get any development aside from Carmelita. I can’t say that she’s very likable because she’s the reasonable, heroic officer. She doesn’t mind teaming up with Sly if it means that they will nab the culprit and she’s just not as fun as Carmelita. Her fighting skills aren’t quite up to par either and you have to wonder why she didn’t just grow up to be a nameless officer like the others. She also seems to be tricking Carmelita…could she have a secret agenda?
The Contessa is one of the bosses in the second game and she’s mainly memorable because she’s involved in a rather large (but expected) plot twist. She’s pretty crafty and she can also engage in classic fisticuffs when necessary. Her design was interesting and the boss fight was pretty good. There’s not much more to say about her, but the Contessa isn’t someone that you want to mess with. Her hypnotic machinery can be powerful and she takes no prisoners.
General Tsao isn’t a likable villain by any stretch of the imagination, but I really did like his boss battle so he deserved a mention. Dueling with him in the forest was good, but the battle on top of the forest was in a completely different league. That’s a battle that I won’t forget and the developers definitely had fun implementing the new gameplay. Personality wise, this guy definitely didn’t rank. He was likely a one shot character so I don’t need to worry about him appearing again.
Doctor M is the big villain from the third game, but he’s easily the most dull compared to the previous two final bosses. He just comes out of nowhere and I have to say that the evil scientist character is really getting old at this point. No…it is already old! He does have a mech to help him out, but the boss fight isn’t terribly fun and trying to finish it in a short time can be brutal. (But worth the trophy) I really could have done without him and he didn’t add anything to the franchise.
It’s also fun to see how the graphics have changed from game to game. The first game is very bright and definitely more cartoony than the other two. I actually think that it looked the best from the three and it’s just fun to look at. The second installment gets a little darker, but you can also see how much newer it is. The third one is basically as modern as it will get and the character models look solid. The graphics are technically “better” I suppose, but the first game still looks the best to me. I just won’t be forgetting that art style!
One bonus that occurs from older games getting to the PS3 is that we can get trophy support! The trophies for all three games are very reasonable and I obtained all three Platinums. I have to say that I’m pretty proud of this and the developers did a solid job. Some may say that the Platinums were too easy, but they were tough enough to present you with a mild challenge during the third game. The minigames also contain trophies, but no Platinum comes along with them. Ah well, you can’t win em all. Either way, this could be another incentive to buy the collection. Who doesn’t want to add three more Platinums to the collection?
The soundtrack for all three games is a little on the generic side. Sly’s main theme from the first game is pretty memorable, but that’s about it. Ratchet and Clank typically doesn’t have a lot of memorable tracks either so it may just be a company thing. (Although Jak’s was pretty solid) It could be argued that I was so into the game at that point that I couldn’t hear the music, but I’m sure that I would have remembered a dynamic boss theme. Well, at least the music isn’t bad.
I do have to say that the ending to the third game isn’t that good. One can definitely see how it didn’t get a sequel for so long, but it really feels like Sly gave his teammates the short end of the stick. It’s almost a tragic ending if you didn’t believe their happy stories at the end. I definitely wasn’t satisfied with such a conclusion, which is why I can’t wait for the next one. The Cooper Gang must never be allowed to split up!
The big question is…could the Sly series defeat Jak or Ratchet and Clank? Well, I would still take both of those series over this one, but they’re a little more out there and the guns advantage almost makes it unfair. Ratchet is the best main character from the three, but Sly’s partners beat the counterparts from the other series. It’s fun to compare the three series and it does appear that Sly has outlasted Jak. Maybe it’ll end up giving Ratchet and Clank a run for their money eventually. (The film is coming out soon for both series after all. Can’t wait to see them compete!)
Overall, this was a fun trilogy and it holds up well against the famous Mario Galaxy series. Completing all three games and getting the Platinum definitely means that you are getting a lot of value for your purchase. Replay value is not an issue and you’ll be glad that you purchased the game. The graphics are good and the banter between Sly and Carmelita can be pretty awesome. The rest of the dialogue is typically well done as well and the writers must have been very focused when working on it. The levels can get a little repetitive in the second and third games, but it’s really not bad and nothing compared to the DS Prince of Persia game. Bentley’s levels are scarce, but I love the Pac Man/Galaga levels where you have to destroy the viruses. The first game allows you to free roam through the levels and the third one has a lot of challenges that are fun since it is basically a way to replay any minigame or stage. Fans of the platforming genre should greatly enjoy the game and the writing is superb as well. All in all, you can’t help but give the collection a thumbs up!